Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
–Titus 2:3-5, NIV
One thing my wife has often noted is how intensely critical Christian wives are of their husbands whenever they gather, far more so than women in secular culture. The difference is so stark that she can identify groups of Christian wives just by their intense disrespect for their husbands. Recently we took the kids to a local festival. While I supervised the kids at an activity my wife was in line behind a group of women who loudly complained about their husbands for over twenty minutes. My wife finally asked:
You ladies must be with a church group.
The ladies were delighted. Yes, indeed they were! Had she noticed that they were all wearing crosses? My wife explained that no, she couldn’t see their crosses because she was behind them, but that their extended discussion tearing down their husbands with a litany of petty grievances gave them away. She urged them to repent of this pernicious habit and instead try to focus on how blessed they are to have their husbands. They were as you can imagine dumbstruck. However, they eventually recovered and after talking with my wife about the importance of respecting their husbands they seemed genuinely happier.
In partial defense of these ladies and the many millions of Christian wives doing the same thing, while they are indulging in a very common female temptation (as Titus 2 recognizes), they are also being taught contempt for their husbands by pretty much all modern Christian leaders. This is deeply entrenched in modern Christian culture, which is why it doesn’t stand out.
The Kendrick Brothers Strike Again
Not long after the movie War Room was released my wife was at a social event for Christian mothers. One of the wives explained at length how she had forced her husband to see the movie, and that all husbands needed to be forced to see it. While my wife normally pushes back when other wives speak in this way, in this context she chose to bite her tongue*. The bossy wife made her way around the group, asking each Christian wife if they had forced their husband to watch this movie. Each of the other women indicated that they had already either forced their husbands to watch the movie or intended to do so soon. When she made it to my wife, my wife explained that we have not seen the movie, and have no immediate plans to do so. The woman was taken aback at first, but then tried a different approach:
Bossy Disrespectful Christian Wife: Has your husband watched the movie Fireproof?
Mrs. D: Yes.
Bossy Disrespectful Christian Wife: Did he take notes?
Mrs. D: Yes.
Bossy Disrespectful Christian Wife: Did he refer to those notes later?
Mrs. D: Yes.
Bossy Disrespectful Christian Wife: Good for you!
My wife in fact told the truth. I did watch the movie and I did take notes. I also referred to these notes when I wrote my posts on the topic.
Given how elated the bossy disrespectful Christian wife was with the movie, I wanted to see how good my guess was about War Room back in February after viewing only the trailer:
It is possible that the Kendrick brothers will make a U-turn and actually teach biblical roles in marriage. However, based on the preview, their past presentations, and the strong preferences of modern Christians I’m not optimistic. My guess instead is that the advice to the wife is a headfake towards submission while teaching her that her job is not to cultivate a quiet gentle spirit, but to become a warrior praying for her no good husband to get his act together.
For those who enjoyed seeing husbands and fathers put down in Fireproof, Courageous, and Mom’s Night Out, you will want to stop reading if you haven’t already seen War Room. The following plot summary from Wikipedia naturally contains spoilers:
Tony (T.C. Stallings) and Elizabeth Jordan (Priscilla Shirer) have a big house, two nice cars, a beautiful daughter, and plenty of money. Despite their apparent success, they face a strained marriage. Tony, a pharmaceutical salesman, is almost never there for his daughter, Danielle (Alena Pitts). He has been abusive verbally with Elizabeth and doesn’t appreciate anything she does. He also looks lustfully at other women and has thought about cheating on her.
Elizabeth, a realtor, goes to work with the elderly Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie) to sell her house. Miss Clara senses the stress Elizabeth is under, and suggests that Elizabeth fight for their marriage by praying for Tony. Miss Clara shows Elizabeth a special closet she has dedicated to praying, and calls it her “War Room” because as she puts it, “In order to stand on your feet and fight the enemy, you need to get on your knees and pray”. As Elizabeth starts to seriously pray for her husband, Tony is away on a business trip but is having dinner at a fine restaurant with a beautiful woman who invites him back to her apartment. Just as he is on the verge of going to the woman’s apartment and cheating on his wife with her, he suddenly gets an attack of nausea at the last moment and goes to a bathroom in the restaurant to throw up.
Shortly afterward, Tony is fired for inflating his sales figures. Realizing he has hit rock bottom, he rededicates his life to God. Unknown to Elizabeth and Danielle, he has been keeping several samples for himself. He now realizes that he has to return them, even though it could potentially send him to prison. However, Tony’s former boss is moved by his willingness to admit his wrongdoing and make amends, and decides not to press charges. Tony begins to show an interest in his daughter’s jump roping skills and offers to participate with her and her friends in the upcoming double dutch competition at the local community center. The competition goes great and Tony’s team takes second place. Elizabeth successfully sells Miss Clara’s house to a retired pastor who notices the knee indentations in the closet floor and realizes that someone was praying in the closet. Shortly afterwards, Tony is offered a job as the director of the community center. Although the pay isn’t nearly what he was making as a pharmaceutical salesman, he realizes that with the income from this new job combined with Elizabeth picking up extra work, the family can make a budget and survive.
The film ends with Tony giving Elizabeth her favorite dessert while he gives her a foot massage, something she loves, and Miss Clara, now living with her son, praying a powerful prayer in the still of the night.
*I won’t go into the details of why this was the right choice in that setting, but I agree with her that biting her tongue here was the right call.